Candy Apple – Mac Vector Drawing Application

Graphics design programs for the Mac

In days of old I used to be a Corel draw user and I have to say I was fairly expert at it because I used it every day for about 12 years. I had a signwriting business and it was my job to create artwork for vehicles and shops. When I moved to the Mac and was in need of a vector-based graphics program there wasn’t really much available except for the very expensive Adobe Illustrator. Although the Adobe application was quite powerful with what it could do it didn’t match the ease-of-use that I had with Corel draw. I have tried one or two vector-based drawing applications for the Mac including VectorDesigner and Artboard and Vector Designer and none of them have really come up to scratch. So in my search for a decent, well priced graphics application for the Mac I have downloaded an application that I bought because it was on sale for two dollars and it is called Candy Apple. So far I have had only a quick look at what this can do and it does seem quite simple. So let’s have a look and see what we can do with it. When I first look an application I like to do it without reading any manuals or help documentation so that I can get a true feel for the usability and how intuitive the application is.

Getting Started with Candy Apple

On opening the application Candy Apple you are presented with a working area with a grid on it and a set of icons at the top. You can lose the grid if you want to. The first icon is if you want to start a new design, then you have two zoom buttons zooming in and zooming out. Then you have import and export buttons as part of the group on the left-hand side. The access to the tools is over on the right-hand side and it is minimal in the extreme. All you have is a set of four buttons, select, text, draw and styles. So I’m going to click on the draw button and see what happens.

Candy apple 1 Layers and Edit Inspector and candy apple 1

Drawing tools in Candy Apple

After clicking on the Draw button at the top in the header bar more small icons appeared below that give me access to a fuller set of tools. The first four of these tools from the left for drawing shapes such as circles, squares and rounded rectangles, then there are a number of line drawing tools including bezier line drawing tools. Then you have a tool for drawing ring shapes and another tool for speech bubbles. There is a text tool which allows you to put text into your drawing. I have to admit that when I first tried Candy Apple I thought that it was the button at the top that would get me to the text tools for inserting text and I was a little bit confused when nothing happened. It didn’t take me too long to work out today that you put the text in first (With Draw Tool) and then use the button on top if you need to change any of the details of the text such as the font you are going to use, the size, boldness, justification and positioning within the text box. There isn’t any difference it seems, between a simple text on the screen and paragraph text. Paragraph text is where you have a box and the text flows within this shape.

Did you know that there is some vector design tools in Art Text 2 and also in Pixelmator.

Shapes and text on the drawing space

So now that I have some objects on the drawing space the next thing to do is to work out what I can do with them. I’m having some trouble working out how to delete some of the nodes in one of the freehand shapes that I have drawn using the Beziers tool. I have tried double-clicking on the shape, double clicking on one of the nodes while the shape is selected and I can see the nodes. I have also selected the shape then changed to the drawing tool and in the selection of tools underneath that it looks like there is a tool to add to or to delete nodes, but once again I have had no luck in getting the job done. I might have to resort to reading a help file or finding a how-to video. The tools that I was looking to use at that moment was called Insert Path Point and Delete Path Point.

UPDATE: By zooming into the objects that I wanted to work with I was able to get these two tools to do the job of adding and deleting nodes.

Candy apple nodes

Bezier curves

It is quite simple to work with the bezier points to give me smooth lines from one part of the shape to the other. You just have to click and hold on the dot at the end of the bezier controller to change the shape of the line. It is possible to use styles and this gives you the opportunity to change the fill and line of the object. It is also possible to get rid of the line altogether by unchecking the box in the edit Inspector. I would like to be able to change some of the bezier points from sharp corners to smooth lines – Or going from smooth to sharp, and not having much success so far.

The Gradient Fills Challenge

I have been trying to add colours to a gradient fill. The standard gradient fill that I added worked fine and in the edit inspector I added another colour to the gradient so that it went from black to blue to white, but for some reason or other that didn’t get reflected in the actual shape I was working with.

My impression so far of candy apple

When you consider that I’m not a newbie as far as using vector drawing applications is concerned I should be flying along with Candy Apple. As it stands at the moment I am having to do a little bit more work than I would have expected in terms of getting used to a new application. I still have high hopes for how good this is as a vector design program for the Mac, but for the moment the jury is still out.

I still have a good number of tests to work through, such as how the Boolean operators work when I want to join shapes together into one single shape or if I want to use one shape to cut into another. I would like it if it is possible to add outlines and in lines to objects, I think I might be disappointed with this feature, as I haven’t seen any tools to be able to do that as yet.

In terms of moving around the document there is a zoom to fit which will take me to the whole document as well as there being a zoom in and a zoom out. One of the things that is missing is a zoom to object selected. This tool is really handy when you need to get in quickly to a part of your drawing that you are needing to get up close and personal with. As it is at the moment all you can do is to use the zoom tool and then to use two fingers on the trackpad to move the drawing around to where the object is you want to work with. That’s a bit fiddly…

When you have an object selected you see that there is a small purple dot and by grabbing this you can rotate the object around the centre point. It is possible to move the centre point for when you are using this to create patterns. Then there are the control points at each of the corners for the shape that you can use to change the size and the shape of it. With this you can easily change a circle into an oval and to make it as big or as small as you need it to be for your drawing. Then you have the control points halfway between each of the corners that you can use to stretch or two compress the shape in one direction. How this changing of the selected object works can be altered by using the shift key as you move the control points.

There is the usual layering involved of the objects with each object effectively being on its own layer. You can select an object and bring to the front or bring forward one layer at a time. The same thing going towards the back of the design. You get to this by doing a right click or a two finger tap on the trackpad and the context sensitive menu pop-up also gives you the option of converting the shape to an image/bitmap. You just have to remember that once you have converted the object to a bitmap you are going to have some jaggies to deal with if you change the size of the object afterwards.

If the object you are working with was a square, rectangle or a circle then you can convert it to a path which basically means it becomes a freely editable shape. In Candy Apple you can grab the control points of the bezier nodes and add or delete these as you see fit.

Video Tutorial coming soon!

I will be making a tutorial for getting started with Candy Apple soon.

Posted in Apple.

Mind Mapping on iOS then Outlining and Writing

Thinking and getting those ideas organised into a book

IThoughts mind mapping

I have had mind mapping software for quite some time now and I like using it, but often forget to get it out of the box as it were. This week I started to think about a new book to write and it is going to be about switching from iOS to Android and so I opened up iThoughts HD on the iPad. I like to dictate into my computer, in fact, all of my devices as much as possible so that I don’t have to use the keyboard. This is also the case when using iThoughts mind mapping software on the iPad as well. The nice thing about using mind mapping software is that you don’t have to think in a one-dimensional way. You can jump from idea to idea and just throw it in there and then you do all of the organisation at a later stage.

Aperture

NosillaCast and David Sparks talking about a writing workflow

Next thing I know I’m listening to the NosillaCast podcast by Alison Sheridan and she’s talking to David Sparks of Mac Power Users Podcast who was explaining the way that he does his writing. He was talking about how he likes to plan things with his writing work and build up an outline using mind mapping, before moving on to an outline program and then onwards to Scrivener. When I am doing my writing, I generally have a few ideas of what I want to write about and I just get started in my writing software and see how it flows. This is what is known as writing by the seat of your pants. I am a pantser by nature! Even so I think I’m going to give this other way of working a try, because I think I will end up with better structured final product if I organise myself in this way. I have in fact already started on this way of working by diving into the mind mapping application before doing anything else. What I probably would have done next, would have been to get the text from the mind map exported out and ready to put into Scrivener or in Dragon Dictate text editor window. I would then be using Scrivener as my outlining program, which you can do to a certain extent. I have now looked into outliner programs which I can see have more facilities available for that part of the job.

Let’s talk about software to use for the project.

On my Mac I have the mind mapping software called Mind Node Pro. It is very good for creating mind maps and I still plan to keep using that when I’m doing mind mapping on my Mac. What I did on this occasion though was to use my iThoughts HD on my iPad to create this mind map for the book. I did used to have the Mind Node Pro available for iOS, but I actually prefer to use iThoughts on iOS, it just seems to have a better feel to it for what I want to do. I just like the way that it works!

MindNode

Give full reign to the creative side of the brain

The way that I was working in the mind mapping software was to tap the button to create a new node from the centre starting point and then dictating in what I wanted in that new node. It is much quicker and easier to dictate the words in and it is a very good way to get your ideas out of your head efficiently. Making a mind map lets you think in a non-linear way and that is particular good for me because my brain works like that anyway. It must be the artist within me! All you have to do is to just keep the thinking juices flowing and putting stuff in there, even if it is silly or stupid. You can delete anything you don’t want at a later stage. The idea is that there are times when something silly will lead on to something that is useful anyway. It didn’t take long before I had quite a large looking mind map that I felt I could start doing something with in terms of organising. The process was giving me the placeholders or chapter titles, a grid for me to fill in the spaces.

Getting the data out

Top of Tree Tree outliner for Mac OS X Horizontally expanding outliner

So the next part of the workflow is to create a file with the data from the mind map. This can be used in that outlining application that is specifically for giving organisation to this sort of data or as I said, you can use Scrivener directly. If you don’t want to use either of these then it is also possible to do similar work in a word processor or a text editor. That wouldn’t really be good for being efficient and organised though. So the export format to send out from the mind map is called OPML.

This format is particularly good for using in an outlining tool such as Omni Outliner Pro. Well this piece of software for me from the Omnigroup is very good indeed, but it is far too expensive for my pockets. This seems to be the case with all of the software from this software developer. Having said that, I do own a copy of Omnifocus which I like to use for the getting things done type of organising. As I write this, I’ve just become aware that there is a new version of Omnifocus has just become available. I have already upgraded to this new version 2.

There are lots of ways to get the data out of iThoughts – By email, cloud, browser transfer over wifi, iTunes Transfer. I sent it out by email and saved the OPML file to the desktop on the Mac.

Using Data you have exported out of iThoughts

I didn’t have a proper outlining application and I needed to look for an alternative to Omni Outliner. Tree Outliner had been mentioned on the podcast, but I found a couple that were cheaper or free. I tried them and then decided to get the trial version of Tree. In the end I found that Tree was the one to go for so I bought it. It has the usual Outliner app view and it also has an expanded out sideway view. I liked the reorganise tools with the keyboard combinations to make it all happen quickly. I liked how easy it is to collapse all items and it makes it easy to arrange where you want things in your list.

IOS to Android and Dragon Workings

What next after organising the outline?

You could just take that outline and open it in a Scrivener project and then start to add the flesh onto the bones of the project.If you don’t want to rush things, you can send the data out of the outliner app back to a mind map and continue working on it. Bring it back into the outliner again to organise some more before you send it to Scrivener the best writers software. It will be surprisingly easy to write the first draft then because you have something to hang the words on already.

Posted in iPad.

PhotoSweeper – A duplicate photograph Finder

These days with the facilities that we have with our super duper cameras we can quite quickly fill up hard drives upon hard drives with our photographs. It could be that you are using the setting on the camera to take multiple shots in order to help you catch the action. Maybe you do like I do, where you take bracketed shots so that you can do HDR photos and when you have finished using Photomatix Pro to create your high dynamic range image you just want to get rid of the photos you used to do that. There could be other reasons why you end up with multiple images even down to the possibility that maybe you copy them over twice by mistake. I have been having a look at an application called PhotoSweeper which gives you some extra tools for finding duplicates. These duplicates can be found by looking in specific folders, you just drag and drop the folder into the application and tell it to have a look. Or you might be using one of the photo management applications like Lightroom, Aperture or iPhoto. This PhotoSweeper application will also do what needs to be done in this situation also.

Getting started with PhotoSweeper

When you first open it up there is a small six panel set of getting started help information. It only takes a minute to read through it, because the application is actually quite easy to use. I used this with my Aperture library and the first thing that I had to do was to use the media browser to add the library to this application. It is possible to drag and drop the Aperture library into this media browser and there is also a plus button that can be clicked to let you go finding the library in Finder.

Working with the settings in PhotoSweeper

Pasted Image 11 03 2014 00 09

Generally you work with the application on a folder, project or album level, getting started by dragging the container you are working with into the main window of the application. I first of all dragged in an Aperture project from the media browser and I found that it worked just as well with bringing in an album that was part of a project. I also dragged in a folder directly from Finder into the main window of the application and that was no problem at all.

On the set up page you get to choose how you want the application to look for duplicates. This can be as simple as photos that are exact duplicates or you can use settings to find photos that are just similar. One of the most useful settings would be to use time plus bitmap and this will look at the timestamp on the photo and then it will look through the actual bitmap of the image to find similarities. You can also set the time interval that it should use for deciding if these might be duplicates by moving a slider to the left to get a longer time period and the other way for shorter. You might choose to use a time interval of ten seconds or less, three minutes and less and then you might want to go the whole hog for twenty-four hours or less.

What have you got in your Camera Bag

When you have set up the search that you want to do, all you have to do is to click on the Compare button at the bottom of the screen. It is quite amazing how fast the application does the job of looking through the photos and when it has scanned them it will ask you if you want it to auto-mark the ones that it thinks are duplicates or similar. I did find that when looking at photos that I had taken with a bracketed exposures that the application didn’t choose the properly exposed photo of the three. For some reason or other PhotoSweeper seemed to prefer the photo that was underexposed by two stops. It would be handy if in a future version of this application there was a setting that allowed you to do a better sorting of bracketed photos in the setup.

What to do with the results

If you go for the auto-marking of the photos then you can look more closely at the results and make specific choices to remove the marker or to add a marker to the duplicates that are laid out in groups. The photos that are to be kept are marked with a green label and the ones that are marked for removal have a red one. It is possible to go through these groupings one by one and two double click on a photo in order to toggle the marked status.

PhotoSweeper and Preview of Untitled and MarsEdit

There is a slider in the bottom right-hand corner of the application which will give you a zoom level, so if you need to see a bigger version or a smaller version it is easy to do so. This is when you are looking at the group list. You can also change this to a view which is called face-to-face which gives you a pair of photos to look at, even when the group has more than two in it. The text in between the two photos gives you a time difference between the two and underneath it gives you a percentage which must be the amount of similarity from one photo to the next. There are also arrows that you can use to scroll through the pairings of that group.

With a right click on a photo you get extra choices, such as removing from the list or moving a single photo directly to the trash. When you have gone through each of the groups and made the decisions of which photos you want to keep and which ones you want to delete, then you go to the menu Marked and decide how you are going to deal with those deletions. You might decide to move all the marked photos directly to the trash or you can move marked photos into another folder. So it is perfectly possible for you to clean up your Aperture library and yet to still keep your hands on all of the photographs that you have. So you can have all of your keepers within your container whether that is the photo management tool or within a folder and then move everything else out into a separate place.

A workflow to use when importing photos into the computer

One way of doing this would be to import photos from the camera, either directly from the SD card or from a folder on the hard drive that you have copied them to. Sorting out the duplicates in the PhotoSweeper application before you put them into your photo management app. This would be a way to sort the wheat from the chaff and only have the keepers in your Aperture, iPhoto or Lighroom application. You can use this to sort out your artistic photos that you have been editing in Pixelmator.

Personally I would prefer to just get everything into Aperture using the Aperture import facilities and only after that to do the weeding out of the photos that I don’t want. Whichever way you decide to go about dealing with your duplicates, within PhotoSweeper you can choose to to copy duplicates or to remove duplicates. You can even rename photos that are dealt with by PhotoSweeper.

Posted in Photography.

Getting started with DEVONthink

I am coming at this as a complete newbie and not quite sure what DEVONthink can offer me over what I have already. I heard the application being described as a combination of the app Jojimbo, Scrivener and a dash of AI (Artificial Intelligence) thrown in for good measure. I have Evernote when gives me the receptacle for stuff I want to save for reference. I have Scrivener and it really is the business for writers. I don’t have much intelligence, artificial or otherwise. So lets see what we have to do to get started.

Products DEVONtechnologies 2

Which version should I get???

There are multiple versions and the top end ones are a bit pricey. The people that get using Devonthink do love the app and what it gives them in functionality and swear that it is well worth spending the money. We shall see! I have gone for the Devonthink Personal because I had a licence for a previous version and if I do the upgrade to the latest then it will be to this version. Not sure if I would have the need for all of the bells and whistles in the Pro versions.

Update:

I applied to DEVONthink to get the pro version that they offered to journalist, bloggers and reviewers and they sent me a not for sale copy. So this is what I will be using for my review and tutorials.

Learning to use DEVONthink

Because of the complexity of this application it is absolutely vital that you devote a reasonable amount of time in learning how to use it. It is in fact quite amazing some of the things that can be done with DEVONthink and is well worth spending the time looking at the tutorials. When you open up the application there is a start-up window and there are links to tutorials and hints and tips. I would suggest that it is a good idea to watch the videos and in some cases watch the videos twice. The way that I recommend is to watch the video from start to finish in one go first of all, and then to watch it again stopping at points along the way to try the processes involved in the video.

There is for example, a very good video showing you how the tagging works within DEVONthink. There is a setting that you can change within the project properties and it is explained in the video how to do that to get better use from the tagging. It also shows you how you can use tagging to create searches and how to save those searches to make smart folders or smart groups. One of the great things about videos is that you can pause them and then go and try what it is that you are being shown. Better still, you can go back to an earlier point in the video and watch specific lessons in the video again.

Don’t overdo it with the tutorials either.

There is a huge amount of information to get through and things to learn about the application DEVONthink, so it is probably a good idea to dive into the application after watching one of the videos showing a portion of what you need to know. This way you will make sure that you will properly learn the lessons and not forget things. Practice a number of times what you find in the tutorials before you go on to learning the next thing that you need to know.

DEVONthink getting started 2

My own exploration of using Devonthink

There is a book that I want to write and I have decided to use DEVONthink as much as possible for the completion of this project. For that purpose I need to use the companion to DEVONthink which is DEVONagent Pro or possibly DEVONagent Express. Which of these you using will depend upon your requirements and needs for your project as well as the amount of money you’re prepared to spend on this system. I am working with DEVONthink Pro and so I am going to pair that with DEVONagent Pro, but you could just as well be using that with the personal version if you are using DEVONthink Personal instead.

Using DEVONagent Pro I can do a web search on my topic of choice. This application gives me a much better sorting of the web articles that are found, than I would find by doing an ordinary Google search. Also it makes it quite easy for me to take the information found and put it into DEVONthink. As I am moving the found information, my resources and research into DEVONthink I’m able to add notes and also tags. This means that later when I am looking to use the smart artificial intelligence that is the best feature of the DEVONthink application, it will do a much better job.

The artificial intelligence of DEVONthink

The application analyses the data that you put into it and has features that will suggest connections between one set of data and another. Obviously, this will be very useful in terms of giving you other things to think and to write about. It is helpful to the creative process when DEVONthink is able to stimulate your creative juices. I can certainly see that this is going to be very useful for the writing of my book and it certainly would be especially handy if you are writing a paper for an educational purpose.

In the next article I will be looking at the DEVONthink application in more detail starting with getting it has set up ready to do things with.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Recommended Plugins for Aperture

Working with plug-ins in Aperture

Photomatix Pro

Photomatix Pro for HDR 2

Aperture is very good in terms of being able to add effects to photographs and because it was made with the photographer in mind, generally the effects are quite subtle. Certainly they are subtle in terms of comparison with things like HDR High Dynamic Range photography. One of my passions in photography is HDR and for this I use an application called Photomatix Pro and I have been using it as a stand-alone application for some years. It has recently been updated to version 5 and it was a paid upgrade. While I was in the process of upgrading on the Photomatix Pro website I saw that there was another version available that would work as a plug-in to Aperture. It also works with other photo applications such as the one from Adobe, Lightroom. It didn’t cost anything to get this other version on account of the fact that I am a paid user of Photomatix Pro, so I got it and installed it. I have done all of this since I upgraded to Mavericks OS X.

Snapheal proPro

Snapheal Pro 2

Same sort of thing with the application Snapheal and getting an upgrade to Snapheal Pro, although it did cost me €18 to get the upgrade to the pro version. I find that it is well worthwhile to be able to work directly from Aperture rather than having to open up a separate application. I have all of my photos within Aperture and it saves me having to export a file out, do some work with it and then bring it back into Aperture. It is much better to have the files dealt with in one app and not have files scattered across the hard drive that need to be tidied up afterwards. It is also much faster working this way.

Intensify Pro

Similarly I have gone with the pro version of Intensify as this will gives you access from Aperture to stronger adjustments for your photos. The adjustments within Aperture are mostly available across the whole photo, although there are some which allow more specific changes to the parts of photo. With Intensify Pro there is much more granular control over effects available, for example with the vignette it is possible to move the centre of the vignette to wherever you want it in the image.

So now when I am working with photos on my Mac in the application Aperture I have access to these three photo manipulation tools directly and I get a much faster workflow with the photographs. When I want to make a HDR photograph I can select the three photos and choose to work with the plug-in Photomatix Pro and do all of the necessary adjustments to get the look that I want. As soon as I save it there, it is immediately available in Aperture and the next thing I might want to do, is to work on it in Snapheal Pro. With Snapheal Pro I can take out an object within the photograph that is at present spoiling the composition or the general look of the photo, or to generally clean it up. That would be one workflow and the other possibility would be that I would first work with Intensify Pro and then start to use Snapheal Pro.

Intensify Pro Photo effects 2

Creativity is all about choices and how you combine them.

There are numerous photo editing and manipulation tools available for the Mac and this combination of Aperture plus Photomatix Pro, Snapheal Pro and Intensify Pro is working very well for me at present. This setup is giving me lots of choices so that I don’t end up having all my photographs looking the same. As you can imagine using the grunge setting in the Photomatix Pro app would get old very quickly.

Check out the photos I have been creating both on Google+ and also on Flickr.

There is a certain amount of overlap between some of the effects that are available. I can go subtle by staying within Aperture or I can go into either Intensify Pro or Photomatix Pro for more overt and dramatic effects. There is a preset within Intensify Pro that is quite like a HDR photo. A lot of it depends upon the photograph and what I imagine could be the best solution for enhancing it before I share it.

I am not one of these photographers that likes to hold on to the photo being a visual truth. I would much rather see my final photograph as a piece of art that ultimately might not have anything to do with what I actually saw with my eyes and my camera. It is most certainly possible to go over the top especially with Photomatix Pro and Intensify Pro. Sometimes less is more and it would be a shame to spoil the inherent beauty of the scene as captured at the location. You makes your choice and you then have to live with it. So now I think it is time for me to go and get my Sony NEX-6 Mirrorless and go off and take more photos. I can then come back home and my iMac and have some fun altering the photos to get them just the way that I like them.

Posted in Mac Software.

Aperture for professional or enthusiastic amateurs photographers

While Aperture is really very good at what it does with organising and storing your photographs, Apple has given it much more functionality that makes it very useful indeed. As with iPhoto you can make changes by applying effects to your photos, but you get a larger range of effects and adjustments with Aperture. Not only are there a wider variety of effects that you can apply, you get access to loads of slider controls and curve controllers that let you take an image from subtle to completely crazy. You can start off with an auto enhance which applies a few standard effects and that by itself can make a huge change from a dull looking picture to something you wouldn’t mind showing to other people. Even when you have added a combination of effects you can still choose more from the list and also fiddle with those sliders to get your image just the way that you want it.

Getting the crops in

While most of us try to get the image just the way that we want to when we frame the image in the camera as we are taking the picture, quite often when you decide to process the photo you can make a simple improvement just by using the crop tool. It might be, simply that you want to take out something on the edges of your photo that only distracts the eye for the viewer by being there. Then again, you might want to completely change the shape of the photo from a rectangle with the ratio of 3:2 and change it so that it is in the 16:9 shape or a square. Often it depends on where you are going to be using the photo, so for example if you are using a photograph in a movie then you will need to go for the 16: 9 rectangle.



You can make the decision to constrain the rectangle to fit the shape that you require or you can also go with the completely free choice that doesn’t fit in with the popular or standard photo shapes. It is very quick to click on one button to change the shape from a landscape shaped to a portrait shape. Often when you are working on the composition of your photograph you need to think about the rule of thirds. You can set up these crops on your photos so that you can see guides for the rule of thirds. This will help you to align the subject within your photo so that you can get the best from the composition.

Adding, subtracting or manipulating a single colour within a photo

You can use the keyboard combination of Control C to add the colour effect to your photo. There is a set of colours that you can choose which will allow you to change the photo within a certain colour range. You might click within the yellow and then use the slider controls to make effects happen to anything that is coloured in yellow in the photo. If you want to be more specific when choosing the colour that you are going to work with, you can use the eyedropper tool to make your choice. You can get help to grab the exact colour that you want to work with, to help you choose you will see a magnified view of the area you are selecting from in a loupe.

Aperture

Once you have selected the colour that you are going to work with and for the moment let’s say it is going to be a green. You can use the slider controls for hue, saturation, luminance and range. When you have green chosen you will be able to change the colour from green in the middle, go left towards yellow or right towards blue. Then you have saturation which is fairly standard in that if you move the slider to the left you will completely de-saturate the colour and make just that part as if it had been shot in black and white. On the other hand if you take the slider to the right, that the colour green will become stronger. Other colours outside the range are not effected. The luminance slider controls the brightness of that particular colour and the range determines how wide a spectrum of green is included in the changes.

Let’s have a look at the advanced settings for the colour adjustment

When you look at the colour adjustment settings in the left-hand sidebar of Aperture you will see that there are three buttons on the top right-hand corner. If you click on the button to the left you will open up the colour adjustment panel that will show all of the colour adjustment sliders for each of the colours that you can work with. So rather than working with one colour at a time in a photo you can fiddle to your hearts content to really make your image come alive. The middle button will take the settings back to the default and then you have a drop-down list on the button in the top right-hand corner where you can add a new adjustment or take away the colour adjustment. If it is something that you think you might use again, you can add what you have created to the default set.

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Posted in Mac Software.

Assigning Keywords in Aperture

How to assign keywords in Aperture on your Mac

If you are a keen photographer then it is not going to take long before you have thousands of photographs to organise on your Mac. For quite some time I was using the application iPhoto and it was sufficient for what I wanted to do with my photos. On the other hand, the application Aperture is so much better in terms of how you can organise and deal with your photos that it doesn’t really take too long before you find that you do need to have the better tool for the job. I have found that the effects that you can apply to photos in Aperture are much more professional than the ones that you get in iPhoto. You do get the opportunity to add keywords to photos in iPhoto, but Aperture also does a better job of that task too. Within Aperture you can have keywords with subordinate keywords and there are also ways of adding keywords much quicker in a number of different ways within the application. In the embedded video you can see that it is quite easy to create keywords in the Inspector window in the side bar of the application and you can do the same job if you are using the Inspector HUD (Heads up Display). I think it will be a matter of time before Aperture also will let you add Mavericks Tags to photos within the app.




The keywords Heads up Display in Aperture

Keywords and Aperture

There is an advantage of using the heads up display for the keywords and that is that when you start typing in letters for a keyword, the application will give you some auto fill options. So if you want to look for the word snake you start by typing in the letters S N and by the time that you have put in the letter at A you will see a couple of words that are starting with those three letters. If it is a long word or there are a number of words offered up, it could be quicker for you to use the arrow keys and you can quickly get to the word that you want. Or you can simply put in more letters until there is just one word there, the word that you require and all you have to do is to press enter. This can save you an awful lot of typing when you are adding keywords to your photos.

When you are using the Keyword HUD – heads up display you will find that there is less chance that you will add duplicate words that are only different because of a different capitalisation. Or there will be less duplicate words that are different only because one of them is in the plural form. Better to have just one word in these cases so that when it comes time to find photos you can search by just the one version of the word and not both. If you do make a mistake and add a word that already is taken care of within your set of keywords it is quite simple to merge keywords together.


Using the Aperture Control Bar

There is another way that you can add keywords to your photographs and that is by using the control bar which when you have in view, is at the bottom of the Aperture window. There is a shortcut key, the letter D, or you can place an icon in the icon bar at the top of the window and you can then also just go to one of the menus to get the control bar showing. When the control bar is in view it will give you one click functionality to sets of keywords. There are sets of keywords that are applicable to descriptions of photos such as whether the photo is in landscape or in portrait, etc. Another set will give you stock categories such as glamour, food, nature, people and so on.

What is really useful and handy is the fact that you can create a set of keywords that you can use in this way that are specific to the type of photographs that you take. For example you might have one set that will let you keyword the different places that you regularly go to take photos. When we are talking about keywording hundreds of photographs, or even thousands then we need to have things like this in order that we can do the keywording process as quickly as possible. If you use HoudahSpot you can see the keywords alongside Mavericks Tags.

Posted in Mac Software.

Getting to grips with Spotlight on Mavericks

Finding files in the Finder in Mac OSX 10.9 Mavericks



Tagging files is unbelievable useful for helping you to find files when you need them later. It is as easy as anything to add Tags in Mavericks when you are saving a file and also possible and pretty easy when you want to Tag files later. You can tag a few files all at the same time. You can have a tag which can encompass files of all sorts in various far flung places on your hard drive. Just hit the name of the tag in the Finder later and you have all your files in one place. It can also be set up in Spotlight to combine different search criteria along with the keywords and Mavericks tagging so that you can be quite sophisticated with searches. To a certain extent it can be done with the regular Spotlight search window which you can get by using the key combination Shift-Ctrl-Spacebar. You put your first search term in the text entry box to start it off then add more as you go. To get really crazy with it and more detailed with boolean type searching then you want to use something like HoudahSpot. It is an app that is well worth getting if you regularly search for files on your computer.

The question is —- Will you remember to Tag files when you save them? Should be easier for you to remember to do this now as you get a Tags field whenever you do a save of a file. So why not?

I will be doing more with this because getting your head around boolean searching with Houdaspot takes some doing. As they say though about computer programs – Houdaspot is incredibly powerful when you have learned what it can do.

Keywords and open meta tags are not the same as Mavericks tags

I thought that Apple would use the Open Meta Data standard for tagging, but I was wrong. On the face of it, you could think that it is a bad thing that Apple didn’t embrace open standards. On the other hand, the open meta data is still there to use and gives yet another layer of data to help you find your documents. Also in Houdaspot there are tools in there that will let you keep the two in synchronisation. Look out for a video on that and I will go into a bit of depth regards how to use keywords and tagging in Mavericks.

Posted in Mac20Q.

It was a lot of messing but worth it in the end

The move to Mavericks

It took me a long time to download the Mavericks installer and once I had it so I put it onto a SD card and I used that to do the upgrade on my Mac. I have also just dotted to do the upgrade to maverick’s for my wife’s computer using the same SD card. That saves to having to download a large file twice. It isn’t too difficult to follow the instructions that allowed me to put the upgrade on to an SD card and you only have to do it once then put the SD card somewhere safe.

Nuke and pave – A completely clean install

My wife’s computer is getting a dirty install in that I am installing over the top of what you has there already. I may possibly redo it later but that will be when I decide to buy a SSD drive to put in there and at the same time I will probably take out the optical drive and to put another drive in the place of that. I am pretty sure that I will be getting the screwdrivers out fairly soon.

On my own drive I went for the completely clean install where I did a delete of everything that was on the SSD drive before. I also deleted everything that was on the internal hard drive. The SSD drive is one that I am running external to the computer on a thunderbolt adapter. To be honest, I thought that this would be a lot faster than working off a hard drive for the system, especially at bootup time and it doesn’t seem to be very much different. On the other hand, it could just be that I have got used to it and if I went back to booting from a mechanical hard drive I might just tear my hair out having to wait for so long for it to boot up.

It’s a little bit fiddly but worth it

When you delete everything from all of your drives you have the choice of bringing everything back from either Time Machine or one of your backups using migration assistant or to reinstall everything from scratch to get that completely clean install of Mavericks. I went for the second of those two options because it was high time that I did a spring clean of my computer, but it is a little bit fiddly even though well worth doing.

The reason that it is so fiddly is because you have two make sure that you have all of the installation files for each of your applications. There was one, DragonDictate, that I had to re-download from the vendor and I even had to pay for the privilege to be able to re-download it. It was only five euros so wasn’t too bad. You also have two make absolutely sure that you have all of the up-to-date serial numbers and passwords for all of the applications and are used one password to make sure that I had all of that in one place. Naturally you have two have a double backup of all passwords and information within one password stored elsewhere to be doubly sure that you don’t lose that. I highly recommend making notes as you go when you are creating your backups of the data for the applications. As it was I did have two do some searching around to find where it was that I had put security certificates, backups from applications with sensitive information such as passwords and things like macros I had created within Keyboard Maestro.

You also have to remember that when you have changed over to your new system you need to keep the old backups for a month or so. And because of this you will need to have other hard drives available so that you can make a new series of backups for the new system. I have been adding applications as I need them to the new system and this seems to be a good way to clear out a whole load of applications that were just sitting on the hard drive before and not being used.

It is necessary to reconnect to iTunes accounts and into your photo storage for applications like iPhoto and for Aperture. I did find on one or two applications that I lost some of the customisation and setups I had created previously. Fortunately it wasn’t big things and I was able to recreate what I had lost pretty easily.

It’s not for everybody.

For most users I would recommend the option of using Migration Assistant and if you haven’t been using your computer very often or for very long then just installing over the top is going to be all that you need. I did it the way that gives the clearest install because I didn’t think that my set of was quite correct with having added the SSD drive. You have to make your own decision based upon how you have been using your computer.

Posted in Mac Software.

An SSD and the need for speed

The need for speed and SSD

On account of the fact that I can’t really open up the iMac to do any work on it due to having the AppleCare set up to work for the iMac, I have had to have a look at another way of being able to use an SSD. Fortunately with my iMac I have a thunderbolt port not being used and because thunderbolt is so fast it is a perfect way to set up a SSD drive. It took a wait of two and a half weeks to get the Thunderbolt adapter sent to me from England and it also took some time for the cable to arrive from Italy. The SSD drive I ordered from Crucial and it arrived very quickly, so I ended up having it sitting in a drawer for a week or two! Naturally, as soon as I got the stuff I was keen to set it up and get running with this new thunderbolt Connected SSD.


 

Fitting a gallon until a quart pot

The SSD drive is only 250 GB and I have to get the system onto that and then use the 1 TB drive that I was using for everything for hosting the data. The hard part is cloning the system from the old drive to the new drive and making sure that I get all of it so that it works properly. Of course I made sure that I have backups of all of the data before I started any of this.

Seagate STAE127 GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter Amazon co uk Computers Accessories

I did wonder if I could use the Apple Migration Assistant application to do the job for me. I did give it a try but I wasn’t able to work out how to do that. I used an application called SuperDuper to do my main backups to a separate drive and I thought that I would be able to use this to do a clone of just the system. That didn’t work out as SuperDuper isn’t quite as configurable as I thought. So I downloaded a trial version of Carbon Copy Cloner and that was much more useful. At the moment I am in the process of using the Seagate GoFlex connected by the Thunderbolt cable, getting it to start up from the SSD drive and it is taking a long time to copy the data across from the backup. I did an erase and reformat of the 1 TB drive so that I can have a clean drive without any system on it.

It is all a bit weird!

At the moment I have applications which are not starting up properly. I tried to use Skype and it didn’t work, also nothing in system preferences is working either. On account of the fact that I have data being transferred from the backup disk to the 1 TB drive I can’t do a reboot and try to get things working again. When this next lot of data has been moved I will do a reboot and try again. I am also tempted to have another try at using the migration assistant.

Now that I am nearly 200 GB into moving the data of nearly 700 GB, it is reporting that it will take another five hours. This is going from one mechanical drive to another and that is why it is taking so long. It is really quite frustrating having my Mac in front of me and not being to use it. At least I am still able to use my Amazing iPad and of course I also have my Samsung galaxy S3.

Light at the end of the tunnel

The previous paragraphs were all about the frustrations of doing the job and setting it up afterwards where there were some inconsistencies. It is now a couple of days later and I am actually using the computer and it is all working very nicely indeed. I seem to have got used to the speed of using an SSD instead of a mechanical hard drive and I probably won’t notice any difference unless I go back to working with a computer booting off a mechanical hard drive. And so, how I am pretty sure that I am getting a fairly good speed increase and I’m able to make Final Cut Pro and DragonDictate work faster by using the SSD drive as by working drive.

Posted in Mac Hardware.